Natalie created and served as the director for the Illini Summer Academy in Creative Writing at the University of Illinois during the summers of 2013, 2014, and 2015. High school-age students stay in University of Illinois dorms and attend creative writing courses taught by graduate students.

Example ISA course materials:


Students imagine a character and a setting. Instructors scramble worksheets, assigning each student to write a story using a randomly pulled worksheet from each category.


Students read Marcus Wicker's poem "Love Letter to RuPaul" and write their own unexpected love letters.


Students visit a campus location and record conversations they hear around them. Later, they must compose a fictional scene including one or more of these conversations.

Pictured, students perform readings of collaboratively composed poems. Each work is drafted using an associative word map students generate from a randomly assigned physical object serving as the seed for imagining connections. These students began with a can of beans; the title of the poem is "Don't Worry, I'm Insured"!